Last week, we gazed in amazement as Nintendo shed more light on their upcoming home console, the Nintendo Switch. While they did share a huge amount of info, it was largely relegated to how the hardware functions and trying to make a case for why you should buy one. That’s great info and all, but the whole show left quite a few of us with lingering questions. Between the poor translator performance during the press conference, vague communication from Nintendo employees at multiple events since the reveal, and a fair amount of misleading rumors from the internet’s “Twitter experts”, there are still things we need to know. Maybe it was intentional because Nintendo is still ironing out the console’s final details, (which would be absolutely insane, considering the thing ships in 6 weeks!). Here are some of the biggest concerns, we at Pixelrater, still have about Switch as the console’s March 3rd release draws near:
Virtual Console Support/Pricing
Historically speaking, Nintendo has never handled their transitions from console to console very well in regards to Virtual Console. With their past IP’s being some of their highest strengths, I totally get it. Why give away something that you can get paid for instead? For a long time now, that’s the path we had to endure. Buying the same game over again has become the norm on a new console. I can’t even begin to show the disdain I’ve had to endure by paying for ‘A Link to the Past’ as many times as I have. I know, it’s my choice, just as it’s yours not to, spare me that argument. Given enough time, this demand has chiseled away the desire from the company’s most die hard fans to play classic games on Nintendo’s new consoles. The big N tried to make amends by offering a discounted upgrade fee from Wii to Wii U, but even that seems like a poor solution. It also did nothing to address the existence of Virtual Console on 3DS.
With the addition of the “Nintendo Account” system, there are high hopes that Nintendo will FINALLY step into this millennium and consolidate all your purchases. Still, Nintendo has been nearly silent on the issue, instead choosing to declare that they are “Listening to fans and know of the concerns.”
Great, Reggie. Thanks for “Listening”.
Inevitably, Nintendo is finally upping their game in the online systems space. While they’ve always touted free online play, it’s generally been of a lower quality experience than that of the competition. With Xbox Live launching in 2002 and PSN following suit in 2006, the big boys have a lot of experience regarding the online experience. Like I said, Nintendo’s limited online functionality has always been free, so that helped soften the blow (Even if Mario Kart has been rampant with cheaters from day one). Those days appear to be over, however, as Nintendo announced that Online functionality will soon come at a price when it goes live this Fall. I’m okay with this as long as it does a much better job than what’s currently offered. Some of the benefits of Nintendo’s new online format include:
- Online Play
- Lobby systems and voice chat
- Free Monthly Games
- Exclusive Deals
That all sounds great and lines up with what Sony and Microsoft offer. But the mess is in the details, and Nintendo again has remained nearly silent on the matter. Don’t get me wrong here; they are definitely making strides in the right direction. Doing away with friend codes is HUGE! But for every step forward, there seems to be a small step to the side, as almost all of these touted “features” are still wrapped in a veil of ambiguity.
First, we have the question of price. Namely, we don’t have one yet. I don’t think Nintendo knows yet. I don’t think Nintendo has even finished making the platform yet. If they’re going to be competitive with Xbox Live and PSN pricing, they have to come fully loaded with features of the same caliber. I hope you’re ready for that, Nintendo.
Lobby Systems are a great and expected feature to tout, as it wouldn’t be much of an online service without being able to hang and speak to friends. In the past, these features have been limited due to Nintendo’s family friendly approach. I get it, Nintendo doesn’t want your kids talking to weirdos. I don’t want to talk to weirdos either. Unfortunately, that’s a necessary risk with online play, and Nintendo is finally realizing it. What’s curious here is their decision to handle a majority of these social features via a dedicated Nintendo App that will be released MONTHS after the console launches. I have two major concerns with this approach.
Switch is a portable system. There’s no way around it. But not only with all the peripherals I’m expected to haul around with me to the best experience, I now am expected to monitor all of this activity on my smart phone? What if I don’t have a smartphone? What if I want to play with my nephew who clearly isn’t old enough for the responsibility of such a device? What if I LOST my phone? It just seems strange to require more tech to get the most out of your product. I honestly wonder how many people will stick to the already existing smartphone communication options available instead of adopting yet another medium.
By waiting so long to make these features available, you risk alienating the exact audience you’re targeting. It’s super clear that Switch is aimed at the mid 20’s – 30’s crowd, and boy are we a social bunch. You don’t have to look any further than ‘1 2 Switch’ to see how hard they are trying to tap into that social angle. As happened with the first Splatoon, if I can’t talk to my friends freely and openly, my interest is going to wane rapidly. So why wait? Why not have at least some method available for launch? It’s concerning.
For some time now, both Microsoft and Sony have offered free monthly games to subscribers. Nintendo appears to be following suit, which sounds awesome! Unfortunately, the fine print seems a little more limited. While Sony and MS allow you to retain your monthly grab in your library for the duration of your subscription, Nintendo appears to be implying that they will take the game back after the month of its availability.
Is this true?
If so, it seems… odd. I could see it being a successful strategy if they do something to celebrate the series while it’s available. They have promised that existing titles will be updated to include new features like online functionality, but still, it seems strange that they would be so far removed from the competition’s strategy
Future 3DS Support
For as long as Nintendo’s console business has been stagnant, their mobile game (heh.) has continued to flourish and fill the pockets of stockholders. That’s all about to change with Switch. As I said before, there’s no way around declaring Switch a “portable” device. It’s flagship feature is taking the thing with you. So what does that mean for 3DS? Nintendo has said they will remain loyal to the 3DS base by continuing to support the system. But how long does that promise take to fade? You don’t have to look any further than the release of the DS to see the past repeating itself. With the DS, things were new, and customers were nervous. Nintendo was there to promise that DS is just a “Third Pillar” to the Nintendo family, and that Console and Game Boy would live on indefinitely. Those words disappeared as soon as DS proved to be successful as the Game Boy name faded into oblivion.
The same goes for the days when the company said Wii U would continue to be supported next to Switch and the two platforms would co-exist? Well, just this week Reggie Fils-Amie said Breath of the Wild would be the last Nintendo title for the ailing system. So much for co-existing, huh? Will we see the same situation again?
If I were Nintendo, I would be going all in on Switch development. I love my 3DS dearly. It’s been years since the console hasn’t been by my side daily, but maybe it’s time to let it go and embrace the future. Having two similar devices risks brand confusion, and that’s the LAST thing Nintendo needs these days. Look at the upcoming ‘Fire Emblem: Warriors’. It’s going to release on both systems. Great! But now my sales are split down the middle, and one is most definitely going to be cheaper and on a device most Nintendo fans are already likely to have. Where is the incentive to consume that content on Switch? To be frank, there really isn’t any…
With the release of the iPhone 7, we appear to be moving full steam towards a wireless future. I’ve stubbornly accepted this fate, albeit with heavy disdain. I now own bluetooth headphones, which admittedly are pretty amazing. The problem is my 3DS goes everywhere with me,I play it daily, and sometimes I need headphones. 3DS also doesn’t have bluetooth, so I have to carry around a wired set exclusively for one purpose. The addition of Bluetooth in switch would be welcome for sure, and would make a lot of sense for peripheral connectivity of a mobile console. Still, there has been no mention of its inclusion. We at Pixelrater are confident that switch WILL boast Bluetooth, as the console sports an “Airplane Mode” feature, and that name doesn’t really make sense if the only wireless function is Wi-Fi. Still, with all of these questions continuing to loom, it would be nice to put the issue to bed and just know the answer.
Storage Size concerns
Let’s face it: games take a lot of space. The Switch comes with 32 GB of onboard storage. In 2017, that’s not much. When Launch games like “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” are expected to take over 13 GB of space, that little guy is going to fill up—FAST! The console is expandable via a microSD card by up to 2TB. But that tech doesn’t even exist right now, and the highest capacity microSD cards are still at a premium price. For reference, Antonio purchased a 200GB card off of Amazon for around $65, but for consumers they currently top out at 256GB for over double that amount! So what is Nintendo doing to remedy the issue? Are they expecting customers to shell out for expanded storage? Are they making size or compression requirements for digital games?
We still don’t know.
After all these thoughts and concerns, I’m still SO excited for Switch and the potential it has to revitalize the Nintendo brand. Currently though, there are so many questions that need answers before consumers can make confident decisions regarding the system. What about you? Do you have any lingering questions as the release of the Switch looms in the distance? Let us know!